As I was double checking my itinerary for the trip to Connecticut, I saw that I had an email from Ruth; she wanted to know whether they should come down for a visit the following (week and a half following, not three days following) Saturday. It seemed unlikely to work out, so I didn’t spend much time angsting about it and didn’t mention it here or in real life, other than to Mr. Book.
Oh, I acted practically as though it were going to happen: I planned a meal, bought groceries, and cooked; I steamed the carpet; I pulled a couple of toddler toys out of the closet. But I didn’t really believe in the visit until they were here. This time, I was not the awkward one: that would be Cricket, who seemed pretty ambivalent about Joey. On the one hand, Joey was asleep for almost all of the last visit—now he’s a bright-eyed baby who kept looking at his brother and smiling—he’s pretty appealing, and Cricket likes babies (I’m told). On the other hand, he was touching Cricket’s stuff and, even more upsetting, being held by Cricket’s mamas. At one point, Ruth was holding Cricket and decided to hand him to Nora; she asked Cricket whether that was okay, he said no, she and Nora conferred, and then they explained that they were going to do it anyway. Cricket, who had been sitting on Nora’s lap, leapt up, ran to Ruth (once she was baby-free), and seemed pretty shaken: clinging to her, complaining softly, staring at Joey. They could be back in the pool inside of a month, so Ruth and Nora are (I think) seeing this as a valuable preview of how things will likely go with an adoptive sibling; and of course, there’s that biological thing.
Maybe it’s the fact that Cricket was a little off balance that made it easier for me to reach out to him—maybe it was Mr. Book’s absence for most of the day. I am too often content to use my husband as a buffer, let him do the people stuff. Too, Cricket was a little more mellow than he was in January. He’s so much older now. At one point, after he had been playing with our (surprisingly patient) cat, I said “Aztec, do you want a cookie?” and as the cat came bustling into the kitchen, Cricket piped up: “I want a cookie!” Well, then: dehydrated chicken pieces all around!
Toward the end of the visit, Nora asked Cricket to lie near Joey so that they could take pictures, and Cricket refused. Then he lay down pretty far away from Joey; then he started rolling closer and then farther away. Finally, he decided that they should hold hands. All of his hesitance and curiosity together, right there. It’s been a long time since I wanted to hold that kid as much as I did right then. No matter how many people tell me that this is complicated for Cricket and no matter how well I think I understand it, there’s nothing like watching him experience it to really hit a girl in the gut.